In class, you probably talk to a lot of non-native Spanish speakers, or your teachers might slow down and enunciate more. A lot of programs and audio samples that are made for Spanish learners tend to speak slower than normal conversations. The first time you talk to a native speaker or watch a TV show in Spanish can be intimidating. Luckily, there are a few interpretive listening strategies that you can use to help you feel more comfortable, confident and prepared.
Interpretive Listening Strategies
- Relax. If you’re on edge thinking about how little you understand, or if you’re worried about making a mistake, you aren’t going to understand nearly as much as you would if you were relaxed. Your mindset can definitely affect your ability to understand spoken Spanish! By letting yourself relax, you’re more open to picking out words you recognize.
- Focus on what you know. By listening for words and phrases you recognize, you’ll actually be able to understand more of a conversation. If you immediately feel discouraged by hearing a word you don’t know, you’re blocking yourself from paying attention. You don’t know every word in your first language, and you won’t know every word in Spanish either. Focus on what you understand, and you’ll grasp more than you think.
- Watch for context clues. Paying attention to body language and nonverbal cues is key. We communicate with our tone, our hands, our facial expressions, and the way we carry ourselves. You can tell a lot without understanding a single word, so use these cues to help you navigate the dialogue.
It can be a bit tricky to listen to something in Spanish without seeing their lips move. For beginners, it’s a good idea to watch a show or movie so you can see their body language and lips clearly. If you’re looking for a challenge, podcasts and radio shows are great opportunities for listening practice, too! Let us know if these interpretive listening tips help, and if you have other strategies that work well for you.